Black facade appears in middle of mall
Apple is building its first-ever "open-air" provisional store in Switzerland, a local report says. Macprime notes that as far back as March, it learned that the Glattzentrum Apple Store in Wallisellen, just outside of Zurich, is expanding into a neighboring space formerly occupied by Läderach. Within the past several days though, an area in front of the shop -- but separate -- has been surrounded with a black facade, and even a curtain so that people wandering Glattzentrum's upper floor can't see in.
Announcement follows quickly after Chongqing
Apple will open its next Chinese store in the city of Wuxi on August 2nd, at 10AM, according to an official listing. The outlet will be based at the Wuxi Hang Lung Plaza, and operate from 10AM to 10PM every day. Wuxi is on the east coast in the cluster of cities near Shanghai, which already has several Apple Stores.
Larger markets waiting on next iPad, sales in developing markets are way up
For the second time in as many quarters, Tim Cook has had to explain away drops in iPad sales. Last quarter, the iPad saw a 16 percent drop from the year-ago quarter, but Cook detailed a credible explanation that channel inventory from the holiday season had overstuffed retailers and that the drop was actually only three percent because of that, which fell within normal ranges. This time, iPad sales were down about 9.2 percent, which Cook largely blamed on anticipation for the next iPad coming this fall.
iPod continues terminal decline
In addition to its official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown of its fiscal Q3 results. "Greater China" -- including Taiwan and Hong Kong -- continued to lead the charge regionally, with its revenue increasing 28 percent year-over-year to $5.935 billion. Europe and Asia-Pacific each advanced 6 percent, to $8.091 billion and $2.161 billion, respectively. Apple's most important market, the Americas, rose 1 percent to $14.577 billion. Global retail numbers were up 1 percent to $4.104 billion.
Continues expansion efforts outside of Shanghai and Beijing
A new Apple Store will open in Chongqing, China on July 26 at 10AM local time, according to the company's website. The outlet is situated in the Paradise Walk Mall; it should be a prominent landmark in the area, rising at least three stories tall with a massive glass facade similar to its twin in Shanghai. At present, that facade is covered with a "coming soon" logo featuring colored dots sprayed out from the building's Apple logo.
Mold, ventilation among obstacles
Apple's planned store in Hannover, Germany may finally open its doors in late September, say sources claimed to be connected to the company's local retail team. The shop has been under development for some time, with black construction facades first going up in April 2013. The delay is said to be linked to fixing up problems in the building, including mold, bad ventilation, and general defects.
Passbook card is refillable at Apple Stores, debuted in Japan
One day after the service initially debuted in Japan, the new "iTunes Pass" Passbook card is now available in the US and Australia. The iTunes app on an iPhone or iPad can now issue an "iTunes Pass" card for Passbook to users who click on the "Redeem" button in the iTunes app. Once in place, users can bring the device to their nearest Apple retail store, where staff can take money and instantly add it to the Passbook card by scanning the card, which in turn credits the users' iTunes account.
Update adds real-time gift card balance updates, ability to request money in Gmail
Google Wallet issued an update today that gives users the ability to add gift cards and request (or send) money through the Wallet app. The addition grants another perk to using Wallet as it allows customers to carry even fewer cards with assorted balances or perks. Requesting money from friends and family, or sending them money using a debit card is now free of charge, unlike the previous version which charged the same 2.9 percent (minimum 30 cents) fee as when using a credit card.
Will become state's seventh location
Apple has announced plans to open a new Ohio store, located at The Greene in the town of Beavercreek, just outside of Dayton. The grand opening is set for July 19 at 10AM; regular hours will run from 10AM to 9PM Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, the store will operate from noon to 6PM.
Could reach more regions soon
In Japan, Apple has unexpectedly announced iTunes Pass, a new service based on iOS' Passbook app. People wanting to refill their iTunes Store account can take an iPhone (or iPod touch) into a Japanese Apple Store and buy credit from a clerk, who then scans in the amount via Passbook. The money should be available immediately.
Claims same legal protections already obtained in US
The European Court of Justice has issued a decision granting Apple an EU trademark on the layout of its retail stores. The ruling (PDF) states that "the representation of the layout of a retail store, by a design alone, without indicating the size or the proportions, may be registered as a trade mark for services," giving the trademark scope enough to cover all of Apple's locations.
All Australian Apple Stores, more than 140 US stores now using 100 percent green energy
On Wednesday, Apple released its fiscal 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report and announced through it that the company will focus on achieving "net zero energy use," a goal it has already accomplished with all 21 of its Australian retail stores and 140 of its US outlets, alongside its latest data centers and its forthcoming Apple Campus 2 headquarters. The solar array that supplies most of the power used at the Maiden, North Carolina data center is the largest privately-owned array in the country.
Facility under construction for months
Apple is opening a new outlet in Basel, Switzerland on July 12 at 10AM local time, according to the company's website. The shop will be based in Freie Strasse, well-known as a shopping and restaurant district. Regular operating hours will be relatively limited, however: Monday to Wednesday, the store will be open from 9AM to 6:30PM. It will close at 6PM on Saturdays, and will not reopen until the following Monday. Only on Thursdays and Fridays will people be able to shop until 8PM.
Joins other retailers in Back-to-School offer bandwagon
US retail chain Target is now offering gift cards with the purchase of any of a selected range of iOS devices, including the iPod touch, the iPad Air or Retina iPad mini, or the iPhone 5s or 5c. In addition to the gift card, Target REDcard users receive an additional five percent off the normal price. Buyers of the iPad (in any variety or capacity) will be given a $100 Target gift card, while those opting for the 32GB iPod touch will get a $30 gift card. The retailer has discounted the 16GB iPhones to $100, and buyers also get a $20 gift card.
New value tops out at just $225
Apple has reduced the maximum credit people can get for an iPhone trade-in from $250 in the US and $270 in Canada to just $225 in both countries, accounts note. The change can be spotted by going to an Apple Store's landing page. Apple's online estimation tool is calculating still lower values, topping out at $205 US for a 64GB iPhone 5 tied to a major carrier.
Minimalist product shots dropped
Apple has started replacing the wall graphics at its retail stores, photos reveal. Until now, Apple Stores have typically used minimalist product shots set against white backgrounds. The new images feature people modeling products in different scenarios, much like Apple's recent TV ads.
$100 gift cards for Macs, $50 cards for iPhones and iPads
As anticipated, Apple has launched the 2014 edition of its Back to School promotion in the US. The offer is open to qualifying students and faculty, and gives people a $100 Apple Store gift card for buying a Mac, or a $50 card for buying an iPhone or iPad. It applies on top of regular educational discounts, which do however exclude iPhones.
Deals expected to be similar to 2013 offerings
Apple will launch the 2014 edition of its flagship Back to School promotion on July 1, a source says. In the US, at least, the event is expected to be identical to its 2013 counterpart, giving qualifying shoppers a $100 iTunes gift card alongside a new Mac, or a $50 card if they buy a new iPhone or iPad. It's not clear which countries will be involved, but last year's list also included Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.
Includes three previously unknown locations
Job listings on Apple's Chinese website are now calling for managers for six new Apple Stores, Bloomberg notes. In particular the company is building outlets in Tianjin, Wuxi, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Shenyang, and Hangzhou. The latter three were rumored last week.
Carrier offers $50 discounts
[Update: Apple also offering AT&T GoPhone prepaid iPhones as well] As rumored, Apple has begun doing in-store activations of iPhones on prepaid carriers. The first carrier to confirm this is T-Mobile, which is running a related promotional sale. People who buy a new iPhone with a prepaid plan are eligible for a $50 discount, so long as a device is activated in-store, and they sign up for "$50 or $70 worth of service." Shoppers opting for a Simple Choice postpaid plan instead can get a $50 iTunes gift card. T-Mobile hasn't announced an end date for the deals.
All models are 16GB only, limited choice on selection and carriers
Nearly four years after Costco and Apple had a falling out that resulted in the discount chain pulling all Apple products from its warehouse outlets, the discounter is now again selling iPhones and iPads, albeit in a limited fashion for the time being in its US stores. After first bringing back iTunes gift cards to the stores, the Costco Mobile online store is now carrying 16GB models of the iPhone 5s and 5c, as well as the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, with discounts as high as $121 off retail.
Student coupon can push price as low as $830
Apple's cheaper $1,099 iMac, launched on the 18th, is already being sold for less at some third-party vendors. Best Buy is offering the computer for $980, while B&H Photo has marked it down to $979. Students shopping at Best Buy can use an electronic coupon to further reduce the price to only $830.
Initial effort limited to store-within-a-store
Apple will dip its toe into eastern European retail for the first time through a store-within-a-store in the Czech capital of Prague, a media invitation reveals. The notice was sent out by local chain Alza, saying that Apple's presence will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Holešovice Alza location on Friday at 8PM. The sub-outlet should operate much like ones in Best Buy and Walmart stores in the US, which are manned by staff from Apple.
Cellular kiosks will carry both, ending Samsung tablet monopoly
As previously reported, Apple and warehouse seller Costco have worked out their differences, with iTunes gift cards already returning to the chain, and the return of iPads and iPhones to the company's cellular kiosks promised. A new report claims that the iOS devices will return in just over a week, making their new debut on June 27. The claim does not clarify if iPads will be sold only through the retailer's cellular kiosks, or will fight Samsung directly for floor space in the electronics section.
Includes separate iMovie, iBooks workshops
Apple has opened registration for the 2014 edition of its annual Apple Camps. The program is aimed at teaching creative projects to kids aged 8 to 12 while simultaneously promoting Apple products. This year, two sets of three-day workshops are available: one is dedicated to creating a short film using iMovie and the iPad version of GarageBand, while the other involves producing an interactive book using iBooks Author and illustrations done on an iPad.
Four new Chinese stores in next few months
Angela Ahrendts' plans for Apple Retail include restructuring how stores are currently grouped, sources say. At the moment stores are linked by their geography, such that all the locations in Texas, for instance, are considered within the same region. In some cases that grouping is smaller, one example being the shops in California's Bay Area.
Latest Tokyo store draws unusual large crowd, features metal-and-glass spiral staircase
Tokyo, Japan's latest Apple Store opened on Friday (local time) in much the same way most other Apple Stores debut -- free commemorative T-shirts, a large lineup of eager buyers waiting to get in (a rarer sight in Japan than in North America), extensive press coverage. The store in Omotesando, however, was a little different: the T-shirts featured a new, leafy Apple logo that may or may not be used again, and Apple's new Senior Vice President of Retail, Dame Angela Ahrendts, was among the attendees.
Chongqing store to borrow iconic look from Shanghai store, be located below ground
As part of Apple's effort to dramatically increase its retail presence in China over the next two years, a new store intended for the mega-municipality of Chongqing may copy an iconic design from its sister store in Shanghai: a large glass cylinder that serves as a landmark and entrance while the actual store is located below ground. A rendering of the proposed store shows plans for a glass cylinder kiosk entryway, though the store will also have a second entrance nearby.
Most of exec's time spent learning Apple hierarchy, visiting stores
Apple's new retail head, Angela Ahrendts, has issued her first memo to the company's retail workers. "I have spent most of my time getting to know and understand the many functions and teams in Cupertino, along with our short and long term initiatives," she explains. "I was thrilled to meet many of your at stores in San Francisco and London this month, and I'm looking forward to Tokyo and the Omotesando opening.
Could increase traffic at smaller carriers
Apple's US stores are preparing to do in-store sign-ups for people wanting to put an iPhone on a prepaid or monthly plan, a source says. At the moment, people can buy an unlocked phone at an Apple Store, but they have to use their own SIM or go to a carrier outlet if they don't want to sign up for a contract. Initially Apple is said to be partnering with AT&T and T-Mobile; in the case of the former, stores will reportedly be stocking up on GoPhone activation kits and SIM cards. T-Mobile subscribers will only need the SIM cards already available through Apple.
New retail head in job for just one month
(Updated; stock withheld for tax reasons, not sold) Apple's new head of retail, ex-Burberry CEO Dame Angela Ahrendts, has already divested herself of almost half of the first round of company shares she was granted, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. According to the documentation, 16,264 shares given to her by the company vested on June 1. On the very same day, some 8,331 shares, worth about $5,273,523 before tax, were withdrawn, indicating a sale.
Raises minimum pay to $22.45 AUD
Apple retail workers and Apple Australia have come to an agreement on a new four-year employment contract, reports say. Under new terms set to take effect November 1st, entry-level pay will rise to $22.45 AUD ($20.95 US) an hour, while annual pay increases will be capped at 2 percent. The contract also restructures the hierarchy of Australian Apple Stores, defining specific responsibilities. Level 1 workers are those assigned to tasks like helping customers and doing repairs; Level 2 belongs mostly to supervisors, while Level 3 involves managerial positions like Business Leader, Store Leader, or Market Leader.
iPhones free with trade-ins
Today through June 9th, the US branch of RadioShack is running a special in-store discount on Apple's iPhone 5s and 5c, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S5. 5s buyers can get a 16GB model on AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint for free if they bring in a working iPhone 4S, or simply pay $80 -- in either case, a new or upgraded two-year contract is required. The rules are similar with the 5c, except that a broader range of phones can be traded in, and the cash option is only $30.
No service in near future, sources hint
During the past two months, Apple executives have been talking with retail chain directors about the company's rumored mobile payment service, a source claims. While the person has refused to publicly identify himself or the specific chains involved, the retailers are said to include vendors of luxury goods like high-end clothing. The service in question is expected to be integrated into iOS devices and let people pay with an iTunes account instead of cash, checks, or credit.
Explanation used to fight lawsuit over unpaid hours
Apple is asking for a summary judgment in a lawsuit over unpaid retail labor on the premise that the bag checks it institutes aren't mandatory, says The Recorder. Apple Store workers who bring in bags and Apple gear are forced to undergo screening when they leave at the end of their shifts, which consumes potentially billable time. In a Thursday hearing, though, lawyers for Apple claimed that the screenings aren't mandatory if workers don't bring in bags or electronics.
iPhone maker previously dependent on resellers
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority has granted Apple permission to operate directly in the country, reports say. To date Apple has had to rely on an Irish subsidiary, Apple Distribution International, and local third-party resellers. The authorization should allow Apple to open online and retail stores of its own.
Team of architects being hired to transform former mortgage bank
A team of architects and engineers frequently associated with some of Apple's most iconic retail store designs have been hired to work on the company's new Madison Avenue store in Manhattan, city permit filings have revealed. The two companies involved -- Eckersley O'Callaghan and Bohlin Cywinsky Jackson -- have been responsible for such stores as the Fifth Avenue "cube," Shanghai's glass cylinder and London's Regent Street store.
Integrates with Groupon personal apps
Group discount service Groupon has revealed Gnome, a new point-of-sale platform based around the iPad. Each Gnome station is able to act as a regular POS terminal, handling cash, credit, and debit transactions, as well as inventory. Special features are designed to make it easier to run Groupon campaigns though, including integration with the company's mobile apps. When a person with the app enters a store, Gnome should automatically recognize it, allowing someone to redeem a Groupon offer without a printout or even pulling out their phone.
Changes should impact physical, online worlds
Apple's new retail head, Angela Ahrendts, intends to make major changes to the company's operations, sources claim. One example is in China, where plans involve growing from 10 stores to 30 by 2016. That pace is unusually rapid, since the company typically adds no more than 30 or so locations worldwide in a year.
Current-generation iPads still excluded
Apple has expanded its iPad Reuse & Recycling program to France and Germany, local reports say. When the initiative first launched on Earth Day -- April 22nd -- it was restricted to Canada and the US. Given Apple's history with the iPhone version of the program, the UK is likely next in expansion efforts.
May be first hint of iPhone 6 launch window
German Apple Store workers are being blocked from taking vacation days in September, according a source for local website iFun. The reason for the restriction hasn't been made public, but since September/October is typically when Apple releases new iPhones, that's believed to be reason why. It is however unusually early for a such a window to be imposed; normally Apple and other vendors will only institute blocks a few weeks in advance of a product launch.
May be attempt at keeping shoppers away from Amazon
For Americans, at least, Apple has slashed the time needed to process refunds at the online Apple store in half, Reuters reports. The newswire agency cites a retail intelligence firm, StellaService, which notes that people should now be able to get a refund in less than a week versus the previous 10 days. This is because the company has switched from Newgistics to two-day FedEx shipping for its prepaid return labels, at no extra cost to people seeking refunds.
Could be warranted by Apple-devised mobile payment system
Apple is "likely" to build NFC technology into the iPhone 6, according to BrightWire. The newswire agency cites a source "close to the matter," who states that Apple has forged a deal with bank card company China UnionPay on a mobile payment service. Under that agreement, people should be able to use a combination of the UnionPay app and iOS' Passbook to make transactions at UnionPay's 3 million QuickPass point-of-sale terminals in China. UnionPay is developing a system that follows its PBOC QuickPass standard, compatible with iOS, and major Chinese banks have been invited to participate in the project. More significantly perhaps, the two firms are reportedly working on a mobile payment platform that can be used in Apple Stores.
US customers encouraged to migrate from iPhone 4 and 4S
Halfway through the expected sell-cycle of the latest iPhones, Apple is reaching out to customers who have held on to older models with a special promotion at all of its US retail stores, as reported previously. Those who own iPhone 4 and 4S phones are being offered $99 and $199 (respectively) for good-condition working units that can be put towards a new iPhone 5c or 5s, bringing the up-front cost down to as little as $0.
Possibility of robbery still unconfirmed
Early Friday morning, a car rammed through the glass facade of the 4th Street Apple Store in Berkeley, California, according to AppleInsider. It's unclear still if the incident was part of a robbery attempt, but the car appears to have smashed cleanly through the shop's front door, leaving the rest of the facade untouched. The car also bent the store's internal security gate, which like the gates at most other Apple Stores isn't designed to cope with a vehicle's force.
Retail-oriented technology has promise to become quiet industry powerhouse
On the heels of Virgin Atlantic announcing a pilot program deploying Apple's iBeacon in its lounges, drugstore chain Walgreens subsidiary Duane Reade is now planning to use the Bluetooth-powered "micro-location" technology in 10 of its Manhattan stores, to match a larger-scale Walgreens rollout.
Expansion should entrench Apple in Manhattan
Apple is constructing a store at a former bank building in New York City, located at 940 Madison Avenue, sources say. The limestone and marble structure dates back to 1921, when it was home to the United States Mortgage and Trust Company; it has since changed tenants several times, and is currently occupied by a luxury vendor, VBH. Although it has also been renovated several times, the building is said to retain most of its original features, which could be part of the appeal for Apple.
Amazon still king, but business model lags behind rivals in profitability
While Amazon is still the undisputed king of the hill in terms of selling things online, a pair of factors have worked together to allow Apple to jump 24 percent in online sales over the last year, knocking out Staples from its traditional second-place spot. Apple's online sales are only about a quarter of the total gross revenue Amazon pulls in -- but with 800 million credit cards on file and continuing direct competition between the two, Apple's rise (and far higher profitability) make be making the king a little nervous.
Joins high-end retailers Canali, Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc, others for 2015 debut
As we reported last September, Apple was one of the merchants being wooed for the upcoming World Trade Center shopping mall that is set to open in 2015. A new report from the New York Post claims that Apple has in fact signed a lease and will open a new store there when the mall opens, in the main hall on the lower level in the Transportation Hub Oculus under towers two and three. According to the report, Canali, Hugo Boss, John Varvatos, Mont Blanc and Breitling have all also signed up.
Owners of upgrade-eligible iPhones targeted in mass email about event
Those iPhone owners who have older models due or eligible for an upgrade may find a reason to move up during an "enormous" event being held later this week at Apple retail stores, according to reports. The promotion, apparently not connected to Apple's ongoing trade-in program, will be detailed in a bulletin to store management and workers tomorrow. Specifics have not yet been revealed, but qualifying owners will be emailed about the promotion.